1. Let me open today’s sermon by sharing with you a true story. It goes like this. Walter Patrick Bissell (1 December 1957 – 29 December 1987) was an American ballet dancer who became known for his extreme talent of dancing, height and athleticism. He was also good in baseball, basketball, football etc.
2. He was addicted to cocaine since the age of 14 and died at the age of 30 due to cocaine abuse. What lead him into such a foolish end?
3. Sources say that Patrick as a child was physically abused by his mother. She never gave him attention, affection and never appreciated him for his achievements as a boy. By the age of 14 Patrick was a broken child. He lost his self esteem. Always thought of himself as a looser regardless of his great achievements.
4. Then he sought after the temporary relief given by cocaine to get rid of the “looser mentality”. He reached adulthood with this addiction. Ultimately it ended his life.
5. This looks like a typical story. But there’s a spiritual side that most of us are not familiar with. Satan manipulated Patrick’s past and falsely convinced him that he is a looser (explain who Satan is and his existence if necessary). It became a stronghold in his life. He abused drugs in order to regain his lost self esteem.
6. Satan is playing the same game with our minds too. In today’s sermon lets learn about spiritual strongholds and find out how to overcome them by God’s grace and power?
1. What is a stronghold?
A. A stronghold is defined by Webster as a place having strong defenses; a fortress.
B. In ancient times kings, nobles and nations built strongholds and took refuge in them from invading armies.
C. These were very strong structures built using thick and solid stones. It made counter attack much easier. The guarding soldiers could rain down arrows on the invading armies.
D. Most of the time they were built on mountain tops or high places. Castle a structure similar to the fortress were built on low ground surrounded by a water filled moat – often inhabited by carnivorous fishes like Piranha.
E. They were highly guarded. No one could enter in or go out without prior permission (Ex: the wall of Jericho, Joshua 6:1)
F. “Sigiriya” is an example of an ancient natural stronghold located in the central Matale district of Sri Lanka. It was used by king Kashyapa to protect himself from invading armies. (Other examples: The great wall of China)
G. Now lets consider the spiritual strongholds.
2. What is a spiritual stronghold?
A. It’s a lie that Satan whispers in to our mind as a simple thought. Then it grows up to a giant that control our will and life against God’s plan.
B. I know a Christian grocer who sells cigarettes. Upon asking why he replied, “if I stop selling cigarettes people will go to the next shop. I can’t afford to loose my customers”. In this case his fear of loosing customers is a spiritual stronghold which causes him to sin. He prays that God will bless his business – how can God bless him?
C. Satan has lied to him that he will loose customers unless he sell cigarettes.
D. He believes a lie of the devil instead of doing what is right and believing in God for prosperity.
3. How do spiritual strongholds come into existence?
A. A lie of the devil is the foundation of every spiritual stronghold.
B. It took a builder many years to build a physical stronghold. Same with spiritual strongholds. They are not built over night. It takes it’s own time to slowly build itself up so that you may not know what’s happening.
C. We demolish arguments and every pretension… (NIV) – The definition of the word pretension: A false or unsupportable claim, claiming a lie as the truth or vice versa.
D. Ex: The entire world believed it’s impossible to defeat the L.T.T.E and many Sri Lankan leaders felt politically and militarily inadequate before their threats, until the SL army under the present government fully defeated this terrorist outfit on 16th May 2009. What’s the secret? The present government refused to be controlled by the lie that the L.T.T.E is unstoppable.
E. Arguments (definition: in this case false logic that seeks to underestimate God and his redeeming power. Some translations use the word “speculations”)
F. Two examples of logical strongholds common to the Asian mind set. “meka api laba upan heti” (This is our destiny. It can’t be changed.) “meka mage karume” (my karma decides what happens in my life. I have no control over it)
4. Different types and examples of spiritual strongholds
A. Personal strongholds
Example 1: An unemployed youth might think his life is worthless.
Example 2: A woman involved in an adulterous relationship for the sake of financial support would refuse to stop the relationship even after becoming a Christian for the fear of loosing financial support and protection.
B. Strongholds of the mind – Marriage for example. The devil may tell one of the spouses your partner is having an affair. He or she believes it and it continues to trouble you, until you file for divorce, based on a lie.
C. Ideological strongholds
Example 1: A Christian may not tithe thinking he doesn’t have a sufficient income. He plans to start tithing as soon as his income level rises. But it never happens, because God can’t bless him until he obeys and starts tithing.
Example 2: In Sri Lanka Buddhist and Hindu devotees, hesitate to fully commit to Christ even after experiencing divine love and power – simply because they think doing so is insulting their generational and ancestral beliefs.
D. Social strongholds
I. Christians working in corporate sector may enjoy social drinking at parties for the fear of being ignored by colleagues.
II. Teenagers could give into Peer pressure.
5. Why spiritual strongholds are unhealthy?
A. Spiritual strongholds keep you from believing in God, his power and strength for deliverance from sin and bondage, (Romans 1:21-22).
B. Prevents you from repenting for known sins in your life. Rather makes you to compromise.
C. God is a gentleman. He would not do anything in your life unless your free will permits it. Strongholds manipulate your free will to resist God, his power and love.
D. Physical strongholds were meant for the protection of its inhabitants. But it also isolated them from the rest of the world. Likewise Spiritual strongholds make us feel comfortable and isolates us from God.
6. How to overcome spiritual strongholds in your life?
A. Through spiritual warfare, (2 Corinthians 10:4)
I. Our weapons are not carnal, but spiritual, (2 Corinthians 6:6-7)
i. Purity: moral uprightness and singleness of purpose.
ii. Understanding: Knowledge of Christian faith and sensitivity to God’s will.
iii. Pertinence: endurance of everything without anger or frustration.
iv. Kindness: Sympathetic disposition that acts in love.
B. Through obedience to Jesus Christ, (2 Corinthians 10:5)
I. By taking captive of every thought, (Ephesians 6:17a).
II. Leave no room for any negative or compromising thoughts.
III. Make sure your thoughts are in alignment with God’s will by comparing them with his word.
7. Altar call……
The Bible tells us that the enemy (#Satan), which is describe as a thief comes to steal and to kill and to destroy, but Christ has come to give us an abundant life (John 10:10).
Satan wants us to live in defeat, and one way he does this is through #spiritual strongholds, or simply put, #strongholds.
#What are strongholds?
A #stronghold is a fortified city. Therefore spiritual strongholds are incorrect or wrong thinking pattern that has molded itself into our way of thinking, and therefore controls an aspect or our entire life. These strongholds can affect our moods, feelings, how we respond to various situations in life, and they play a large role in our spiritual freedom.
Where do strongholds come from?
One of the primary weapons the enemy uses is deception; deception is a lie appearing to be truth. (The other two primary weapons are accusations and temptations). Strongholds are built upon deception. These deceptions which form strongholds can come from a wide variety of sources, including our environment, those around us, our parents or even demon spirits. Many people are #living a defeated life because of what they chooses to believe or hold on to, for example, they are insignificant and so they live their lives believing they are not important.
For us to live in victory it is very important for us to have the right thinking. Our thoughts are very powerful as they govern our behavior. Our behavior governs our lives.
Can strongholds be as a result of a demon?
The simple answer to this question is yes. A person who has a demon behind their stronghold(s) may find it nearly impossible to tear them down and keep down unless the demon is cast out and then the person must learn to think right. This is because the demon will be working hard at rebuilding and holding those strongholds in place. The demon in the person will be working very hard to prevent the person from being free from its clutches and so will be countering that person’s efforts to tear them down.
At times it will feel as if they are hitting a brick wall, and even if they seem to make progress, it seems like their efforts are in vain because it keeps coming back.
#How do you tear down strongholds?
We tear down strongholds through truth or the #Word of God. It is very clear that strongholds are built upon falsehood or deception; it is therefore through the truth that you tear down such faulty thinking patterns. Strongholds are built when we accept and receive error and begin to meditate on them. Whatever you meditate on, that is what will take root in your spirit. Whatever takes root in your spirit that is what will control your life.
Strongholds are form in our minds what is known as an imagination, that is, a false concept that we believe to be true, but in reality is not. The Bible speaks about these imaginations clearly, and shows us how they can be torn down:
2 Corinthians 10:4, “(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through #God to the pulling down of strongholds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”
If we are going to tear down strongholds through the Word of God, the Word of God is truth (John 17:17), then we need to know what God is saying about you and how he sees you. The Bible tells us that God does not see or think about us like our parents, friends, and others see or think about us (1 Samuel 16:7). Since this is the case, we therefore should not see ourselves through the subjective thoughts of man (how are parents see and truth us, our friends, co-workers, and people we come in contact with.
Many people are living their lives base on how people see them or who people say they are. People will not always know your worth; you need to know your worth. The only person whose words should dictate to you how you think and live your life is God. Your parents may be the one who gave birth to you and brought you up, but you did not come from your parents, you came from God, your parents are just vessels God used to bring you into the world.
For you to live your life according to the Word of God, you first need to know how God sees you and what he is saying about you. I strongly believe that if you were the only one in the world #Jesus would still have died for your sins. That’s how important you are to God.
Similarly, many people live their lives by accepting wrong concepts or believe, while many believe they are not able to live free from whatever have them in bondage, for example gambling. That is a lie and the sooner you stop believing these lies you will continue to live in bondage.
A stronghold is any lie that you holds to be true, for example,
You will never get out of debt;
You will never be free from this addiction;
You are worthless;
You do not deserves to be love
And the list goes on…….
All these are lies and to tear them down you must first identify them and acknowledge that these are all lies then each day replace them with the truth. For example:
Instead of accepting the thought that you will never get out of debt, start telling yourself that ‘I will get out of debt. Not only that but I am getting out of debt.’ Then start working towards getting out of debt.
Many times Satan builds strongholds by reminding us of our past failures and sins. We have to remember that all our sins are covered under the blood of Jesus when we repent of our sins and all our failures are in the past. Whoever you were two years ago, you are no longer that person. Start walking in newness of life.
Do not listen or start reasoning with the things that the enemy puts in your #mind. The Bible tells us “…..Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” What that means is that whenever the enemy puts a thought in your mind you immediately holds it captive through the Word of God. In other words, censor your thoughts before they take root in your spirit.
Since God associates Himself with His Word (John 1:1), if anything comes into our minds that is contrary to God’s Word, throw it out! Do not waste your time thinking about it or trying to reason with it. If Satan is trying to tell you that God is not wanting to forgive you, then don’t listen to it. Why? Because His Word says otherwise:
Isaiah 30:18, “Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you.” (NASB)
We tear down strongholds through #prayer. The Bible tells us that “(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds”- 2 Corinthians 10:4. One of these weapons God has given us is prayer. In fact, prayer is one of the most powerful weapons God has given us so much that all the armors of our warfare hangs on, or activated by, prayer (Ephesians 6:18).
We should never forget the awesome power of the Word of God in destroying spiritual strongholds. When Jesus was upon earth he used the Word of God as a weapon to defeat the “schemes, devices, reasoning’s” of the devil in the wilderness. With each suggestion the devil made to Jesus, he included reasons why Jesus should act upon his suggestions. He was attempting to use human reasoning to build strongholds in Jesus’ mind that would influence his own thoughts and direct his actions.
Therefore when we pray we should never forget to pray God’s Words, and believe them for “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” -Mark 11:24
God has given us resources to defeat the enemy. We no longer have to live in defeat by allowing strongholds to control our lives. Through the Word of God and prayer we can start tearing (or destroying) spiritual strongholds.
Strongholds in a believer’s life will hinder that person from growing in that area, for example if that person is fearful. This is why it is very important for each believer to destroy any stronghold in his or her life before it destroys that individual. Many Christians have killed their purpose or #ministry because of strongholds.
How are you destroying strongholds in your own life? Please share with us and don’t forget to share this article and others with your friends on Social Media sites your apart of.